Recently, I had the honor of speaking at Hospice Brazos Valley’s Celebration of Life service. Over 200 people came, some with pictures in hand, to pay tribute to and honor loved ones who died over the last year. As I looked out at this sea of faces, I could see the grief on their shoulders and in their eyes. As one attendee put it, “I’m alive, but heartbroken. I’ll never be the same.”
No, we’ll never be the same.
I began with, “I’m so glad you’re here. And I’m so sorry. Tonight we’re here to remember, to love, and to honor those we’ve lost. You’re here because you loved them, and you love them still.”
I went on to share five things they could do to remember, honor, and celebrate their loved one. I would like to share these with you today in the hope that it will be comforting and encouraging to you.
“We will speak their name.”
Names are powerful. Just a few letters can mean so much.
Say their name out loud. See their face. Picture their smile. Speak their name.
“We will tell their stories.”
We tell the stories – precious memories no one and nothing can take from us. We might cry, smile, laugh, perhaps sob, or go silent, but we tell the stories. And as we tell the stories, we see them. We remember. Telling their story is part of loving them, and part of taking our own broken hearts seriously.
“We will live their legacy.”
What was important to them? What was their life about? Don’t be fooled, for in many ways, they are not gone. They are a part of you. Their interactions with you, influence upon you, and their love for you deeply affected you and contributed to who you have become. They may not be here physically, but they are far from gone.
Let something that was important to them be important to you. Continue the cause. Serve in their stead. Give. Live their legacy.
“We will honor them on special days.”
Our calendars are littered with special times – birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and many more. How can you remember and express love for them on these days? Light a candle. Gather and share memories. Write them a letter or card. Set up an empty chair. Be creative.
Don’t simply dread these times and let them hijack you. Make a simple plan. Honor them on special days.
“We will love them by taking care of ourselves.”
A wonderful way to honor your loved one and love those around you is to take the best care of yourself possible. Let this rise to number one on your priority list.
Grief is draining and demanding. Honor them by taking care of you.
We speak their name. We tell their stories. We live their legacy. We honor them on special days. We love them by taking care of ourselves.
We do this because we loved them. We love them still.
What about you? Of the five suggestions above, which one resonates with you the most? Why?